Covid-19: Brazil regulator to decide on emergency use of Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccines
Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Sunday opened an extraordinary meeting of its board of directors to decide whether to approve emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech and Britain's AstraZeneca to begin immunizations as the pandemic enters a deadly second wave.
Anvisa's decision will be a simple majority vote of the board's five directors. The meeting started just after 10 a.m. local time (1300 GMT) and is expected to last about five hours.
President Jair Bolsonaro, a coronavirus skeptic who has refused to take a vaccine himself, is under growing pressure to start inoculations in Brazil, which has lost more than 200,000 to Covid-19 – the worst death toll outside the United States.
However, delays with vaccine shipments and testing results have held up vaccinations in the country, once a global leader in mass immunizations and now regional laggard after peers such as Chile and Mexico started giving shots last month.Bolsonaro's government was planning to kick off a national immunization program this week but is still waiting on shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the center of its plans. That has added to public frustration and offered a political rival the chance to upstage the right-wing president.
Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who oversees the Butantan biomedical center that partnered with Sinovac in Brazil, could start vaccinations in the state capital on Sunday if Anvisa approves emergency use of the Chinese shot, called CoronaVac, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.
Bolsonaro, who considers Doria a potential rival for his 2022 re-election efforts, has taunted the governor over CoronaVac's disappointing 50% efficacy in Brazilian trials, but the federal Health Ministry has agreed to acquire and distribute the shot for the national immunization drive.
Adding to urgency for vaccinations, a second wave of the outbreak in Brazil is snowballing as the country confronts a new, potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus that originated in Amazonas and prompted Britain and Italy to bar entry to Brazilians.
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